One of the toughest things about getting fit is finding the right weight loss motivation to keep you going. It’s easy to fall for the trap of chasing superficial goals and then losing your steam when you find that the scale isn’t budging or you can’t see the beginnings of a six-pack.
Weight loss motivation is a lot more than what you see in the mirror, though. To be able to keep your progress over the long term, losing weight for the right reasons is key. You’re also going to need a plan that you can stick to for years to come.
Weight Loss 101 - Learning The Basics
Before you even start thinking about losing weight, you’re going to need to set realistic expectations. You can’t do that if you have no idea what you’re doing. Tossing around weights at the gym or trying the latest fad diet will only get you so far. You need a real plan to start with, and you can only find one that works for you once you understand the basics of weight loss.
Calories In, Calories Out
The so-called “calories in, calories out” (CICO) method of dieting is sometimes called overly simplistic, but there is a deep truth in this model. All things being equal, the only way you can hope to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. That’s it, really. Most weight loss diets are really just creative ways to get you to cut your calories. For example, low carb diets tend to focus on the foods that satiate people the most—those that are rich in fat and protein—so that people naturally consumes fewer calories without even needing to count them.
Calories are nothing more than a way to measure energy, and physics dictates that if you spend a certain amount of energy, then clearly your body cannot store that energy as fat. Now, some people burn calories at a faster rate than others and some people's bodies do not respond to all calories in the same way. We all instinctively know that if two people eat the same exact 1500 calories in a day for a whole month, one eating all vegetables and the other eating all sugar, they are unlikely to lose or gain the same amount of weight, even if all other things are equal. In the end, though, you can't escape the fact that you will probably have to reduce your calories somehow, unless you do a massive amount of exercise.
Exercising Is Great, but It’s Rarely Enough on Its Own
It’s important to get exercise every day, especially cardio. It keeps your body in top shape and helps your heart grow stronger. It can also help you burn some calories here and there, but the fact of the matter is that cardio really won’t do as much for your waistline as dieting will. In fact, studies on the subject show that you will always become hungry all out of proportion to the amount of calories you actually burn.
That's because your body responds to the uptick in energy demand and responds by actually slowing your metabolism later in the day. The goal is to burn as few unexpected calories in a day and preserve your fat for times of famine or a sudden spike in energy need: like when you're being chased by a saber-toothed tiger. Your body is an efficient machine that was honed by evolution over millions of years. It knows how to hold on to energy and it won’t let calories go that easily.
The good news is that the vast, vast majority of your calories will be burned when you’re not even trying to exercise. Just the basic metabolic processes that your body performs take a lot of energy. Figure out what that basic metabolic rate is, and then you can reduce your calories below that level in order to lose weight progressively.
Abs Are Made in the Kitchen
Basically, you will have to diet if you want to lose weight. This doesn’t always mean giving up the foods that you like, but it will mean reducing the sheer quantity of food that you eat. This can be done in a number of ways, so it’s a good idea to experiment with diets until you find one that is reasonable and works for you.
Remember that you won’t have a lot of weight loss motivation if you’re too busy being grumpy and hungry. Try to find a sustainable diet that you can adapt to and keep forever.
The Benefits Of Losing Weight
The superficial benefits of losing weight are probably already clear to you, but there are other benefits besides a more attractive body. Obesity can increase your risk for a number of nasty diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease. In addition, having excess body weight can take a huge toll on your bones and joints over time.
If you’re young, you may not be feeling it yet, but eventually the pain may catch up with you. Besides, why would you want to wait until you’re older when you can have a better life right now? With a new, lighter body, you can enjoy:
No matter what your reasons, if you are overweight, there’s no time like the present to change your habits.
10 Weight Loss Motivation Tips For Beginners
One the the most important things to keep in mind when establishing long-term weight loss motivation is that intrinsic motives are extremely valuable. More than any external factors, it is intrinsic motivation that will see you through. This is the kind of weight loss motivation that comes from enjoying the journey itself and from doing it for yourself.
Remember this point as you take a look at these 10 weight loss motivation tips:
1. Have a Good “Why”
Make sure that the real reason you are losing weight is one that will be relevant for the rest of your life. This will help keep the weight off. For example, if you’re on a particularly unhealthy path, you might be concerned that you won’t be strong enough to be able to play with your kids or even watch them grow up. Taking a serious look at what your life might look like ten or twenty years down the road can be very motivating.
Go for a long-term reason and you’re more likely to stick to your guns.
2. Find a Plan That Fits You
Sometimes a cookie-cutter plan just won’t do it. If your diet and exercise plan aren’t a unique fit for you, don’t blame yourself. Some trial and error and tweaking could be in order. Try different approaches until you find the one for you. The best weight loss motivation is being able to see results without having to push yourself to impossible lengths.
3. Keep Your Expectations in Check
Having unrealistic fantasies might be fun every once in a while, but it can be a motivation killer on your weight loss journey. If you’re a hundred pounds overweight, for instance, it might be unrealistic to expect yourself to be thin as a waif six months in. Changes will be gradual. This is a good thing, actually, since your body will need time to adapt.
4. Build a Good Support System for Weight Loss Motivation
With the right social support, you are much more likely to reach your goal. This goes for almost anything you want to have in life; not just weight loss motivation. Join a local group of people who are trying to get fit, and they can share advice with you or help keep you accountable.
5. Take One Step at a Time
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do everything at once. Change your habits one day at a time. You might start with reducing your calories a bit, and once you’re used to that, you can add light exercise. Try to stretch yourself a little every day, but don’t bend yourself out of shape!
6. Keep Track of Your Journey
Progress can be gradual, so sometimes it’s hard to notice it day by day. To keep yourself motivated, it helps to list your milestones in a journal or on a chart, so that you can see how far you’ve come.
7. Reward Yourself
When you reach certain key goals, don’t forget to celebrate with a reward. Be careful not to fall for the trap of rewarding yourself with something unhealthy that goes against the rules of your diet. This will just further associate bad habits with a pleasure response in your brain. Choose something that you like to do that has nothing to do with food.
8. Focus on What You Want, Not on What You Don’t Want
Keep a positive mindset as much as possible. It’s easy to become critical of yourself, your genes, or the junk food culture that surrounds you if you’re not making the progress that you’d like. This is a trap, though. Complaining won’t get you where you want to go. Try to look at the progress you’ve made so far and focus on replicating that.
9. Practice Self-Forgiveness
You’re probably going to fall off the horse at some point. The question is whether you will dust yourself off and keep trying. If you mess up on your diet one random day, it’s not that big of a deal as long as you are willing to pick up where you left off. This is where it becomes important to not judge yourself.
10. Accept Help When You Need It
Finally, you may get stuck at some point and have no idea what to do. This is when you might need to seek the opinion of an expert, or really just someone who has been where you are. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’ve reached a plateau and don’t know where to go next. Just having someone by your side can help increase your weight loss motivation significantly.
Weight loss motivation can take many forms, but the most important form is the kind that comes from inside you. In order to really stay on the path to a healthier life, you need a good reason and a good plan that fits who you are. Finding what works can take time and experimentation, so it’s best to get started now!